Patient safety is an important focus for hospitals: protecting patients improves outcomes and quality of care, meets standards, and ensures payments and reimbursement. But what factors contribute to a culture of safety? Researchers assessed and analyzed the components of patient safety culture and published their study findings in conjunction with the 2018 American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting.

According to the study, patient safety has three main factors affecting patient outcomes and adverse events:

  • Psychological
  • Behavioral
  • Situational

To continue improving patient safety, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality developed the Patient Safety Culture Survey. The survey assesses patient safety using 12 different factors, and the results rank how each factor relates to reported adverse events.

The survey was administered in a tertiary academic cancer hospital setting by the New York State Partnership for Patients. A total of 3,567 participants in a variety of roles (e.g., physician, nurse, pharmacist) and services (e.g., medicine, surgery, pediatrics) completed the survey.

Using a 0 (a near miss) to 4 (death) scale, participants recorded events that created actual harm. In the three months before survey administration, any adverse events were recorded to an online reporting system.

Results showed that the higher the level of the organizational learning (β = –0.30) and overall perceptions of safety (β = –0.28) subscales, the lower the severity of reported adverse events on inpatient floors. However, more severe reported adverse events came with greater perceived levels of the teamwork subscale (β = 0.46).

“Assessing and analyzing safety culture may have tangible, beneficial effects for patients. Potential interventions to maintain and improve culture are discussed,” the authors noted.